Tattoo You

I just realized it. Everybody has tattoos.

Okay, I’m kinda exaggerating.

Everybody but me.

I’m not really sure when it happened, but tattoos became mainstream.

When I was a kid I remember my dad saying stuff like “Only sailors, bikers, and longshoremen have tattoos, don’t get a tattoo, you’ll regret it.”

Since he grew up in L.A., I’m guessing he was referring to San Pedro and Long Beach from his era. Definitely a lot of sailors, bikers, and longshoremen there.

During the ’90s heyday of Grungeapaloozas it seemed like every dude had a tribal arm band tattoo on his bicep and every chick got a tramp stamp of some really meaningful artwork perched above her ass. Piercing through lips and noses became more common and ordinary earrings gave way to African tribe style megadiscs to stretch out the earlobes.

I had some friends who were really into the Grateful Dead and got some different Dead iconography tattooed one day. Today tattoo shops are rivaling Starbucks, but back then there were less quality artists around. When the three of them returned, they instantly regretted the shoddy work that now adorned their skin. I laughed and was glad I missed out on that one.

Today’s 20 somethings who grew up after us have found an even more accepting attitude towards body art. Even the most tame looking, skinny nerdy guys seem to be covered in full arm sleeves like they front hardcore punk rock bands. White boys with Japanese Yakuza gangster art, girls next door with knuckle tatts and 666’s and daggers, I’m not even sure who to believe anymore. I mean, to a degree you must be pretty hardcore to spend the time and money getting pricked with a needle, but it’s all just an image. A hard image to change.

Maybe I’m just jealous. I never came up with anything that creative and original that I wanted to show the world. Maybe I feel that’s just tipping them off too much. Not my favorite band. Not my favorite football team. Not my favorite brand of beer. I once saw a guy in Portland with a PBR elbow tattoo. That was on the East side of course.

Out here I recently saw a kid with a canoe on his forearm when I was riding the subway. Certainly unique. And I really appreciate the work some people do. Really that’s why I’m staring. I’m trying to figure out if that pattern on your cleavage is a rose or a heart.

I’m not sure about the rest of the country, or the world, but Portland and New York definitely have lots of tattooed people. My roommate who just left was working as a tattoo artist in New York for the summer. He’s from Spain and was covered head to toe with tattoos. Okay, neck to shin.

Like I said everybody has tattoos, ‘cept me.

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2 thoughts on “Tattoo You

  1. sj says:

    I have 3. My brothers both have many, my dad has 2. We’ve all been tattooed by the same guy (he’s super talented and he’s “our” guy), and I want more, it’s just a question of being able to afford it.

    The older of my two younger brothers is unique. He’s a Marine, but he has a kitten on one calf and a ball of yarn on the other. When he’s wearing shorts and walking, it looks like the kitten is chasing the yarn. He also has a corndog, and a guy playing a guitar plugged into a toaster.

    Like I said, unique.

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